Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Mohammad Sa’id Azarang


Age: 39
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: July 20, 1988
Location of Killing: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech; Apostasy
Age at time of alleged offense: 33

About this Case

News and information regarding the execution of Mr. Mohammad Sa’id Azarang, son of Tahereh and Gholam Hossein, was sent electronically to Abdorrahman Boroumand Center by his friends on both June 15, 2016 and April 18, 2019. Additional information was obtained from ABC’s interview with a person close to Mr. Azarang  on June 17, 2019. News of this execution was also published on the website of the Tudeh Party of Iran and Bidaran on December 2, 2013.

Mr. Azarang was a victim of the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988. The majority of the executed prisoners were members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization. Other victims included members or sympathizers of Marxist-Leninist organizations, such as the Fedaiyan Khalq (Minority) and the Peykar Organization, which opposed the Islamic Republic, as well as the Tudeh Party and the Fedaiyan Khalq (Majority), which did not. Information about the mass executions has been gathered by the Boroumand Foundation from the memoir of Ayatollah Montazeri, reports of human rights organizations, interviews with victims’ families, and witnesses’ memoirs.

Mr. Azarang was born in Kermanshah native and an alumnus of Tehran's Kharazmi University (formerly Tarbiat Mo’alem University), studying chemistry. He had a two-year tenure as Executive Director of a cardboard factory in the city of Tehran where he resided.

Sources at hand describe Mr. Azarang as an outstanding student throughout his high school and university years. During the Shah's rule he was in contact with left-leaning university research groups, and along with his friends was a contributor to the publication Akhgar. In this time period, he was arrested twice and spent three and a half years behind bars. After being released from prison in 1977, he married one of his friends and party associates, and they had one son.

After being released from prison, Azarang was active in Navid, an underground branch of the Tudeh Party of Iran* that continued to operate covertly after the 1979 Revolution. Azarang was a high-ranking agent for Navid and was later elected to serve on the Tudeh Party's* central Advisory Committee.

Arrest and detention

In the evening of April 27, 1983, armed plain clothes intelligence agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) went to Mr. Azarang's home in Taleqani street where they took him into custody and transported to Evin Prison along with his wife, their two-year-old son, and one of Mr. Azarang’s Navid associates who had been staying there. The IRGC agents, between 20 and 30 in number, had blocked off the area surrounding Mr. Azarang's home before storming inside. Once they were in, the agents knew exactly where to look; someone had leaked in advance where his [political literature] was stashed. (e-correspondence April 18, 2019)

The agents confiscated Mr. Azarang family's belongings, which included a car, a camera, and a number of valuables. (e-correspondence April 18, 2019) 

Mr. Azarang was tortured during his interrogations; sources close to him say that it was a "brutal and deadly torture. Using shackles and lashings to the point of ripping flesh to the bone in some spots. The agents wanted him to publicly repent and confess to espionnage on popular television shows. They tortured him so badly that he was on the verge of death, slipping in and out of consciousness." (Interview June 17, 2019). Azarang was also subjected to three years of solitary confinement in Evin Prison.

The rest of Mr. Azarang's family got news of his arrest through his neighbors. Once they did, they circulated among different prisons [attempting to find him].  While Prison officials initially feigned ignorance about his whereabouts, his mother, who kept following up, was eventually told by an IRGC member guarding Evin that she was wasting her time. "Everyone here's a traitor or a spy, and we execute them." Security agents were sometimes extremely cruel and insulting in their exchanges with the families of political prisoners, in some cases even compelling milder-mannered personnel to step forward and help the prisoners’ mothers.  (Interview June 17, 2019)

The families of the ’88 mass execution victims were never given a notice for visits. Families had to spend days in front of Evin Prison. Family members were successful maybe 10 percent of the time in making headway with requests for a visit with their loved one. Mr. Azarang’s mother spent a year making unsuccessful return trips to the prison, where she was insulted and treated with contempt, before finally obtaining a visit with him. During Mr. Azarang’s five-year sentence, his parents were only once able to sit in close company with their son. His sisters had a meeting with him in person; once, prison officials allowed his wife to do the same. The rest of Mr. Azarang’s contacts with visitors during this period were over the phone or through glass. (Interview June 17, 2019)

Throughout Mr. Azarang's prison term, the comings and goings of his family, as well as his contacts and telephone usage, were tightly controlled.  (Interview June 17, 2019)


Based on the available information, Mr. Azarang’s family and loved ones were never informed about a trial being convened for him.  He was not granted the right to legal representation. (e-correspondence April 18, 2019)

According to the testimonies of leftist political prisoners who were tried in Gohardasht Prison during the executions of the summer of 1988, the trials took place in a room on the ground floor of the prison after a few weeks of isolation during which prisoners were deprived of visitation, television and radio broadcasts, and outdoors time. Towards the end of August, a three-member delegation composed of Hojatoleslam Eshraqi, the prosecutor, Hojatoleslam Nayeri, the religious judge, and Hojatoleslam Purmohammadi, the representative of the Ministry of Information asked prisoners questions about whether they were Muslim or Marxist, whether they prayed, and if their parents were practicing Muslims. Based on the prisoners’ responses, the later were sentenced to be hanged or the flogged until they agreed to pray. The authorities never informed prisoners about the delegation’s purpose and the serious implications of their responses. According to survivors, during the summer of 1988 a large number of prisoners sympathizing with the Mojahedin or Leftist groups were executed for not recanting their beliefs. 

The relatives of political prisoners executed in 1988 refute the legality of the judicial process that resulted in thousands of executions throughout Iran.  In their 1988 open letter to Minister of Justice at the time, Dr. Habibi, they argue that the official secrecy surrounding these executions is proof of their illegality.  They note that an overwhelming majority of these prisoners had been tried and sentenced to prison terms, which they were either serving or had already completed when they were retried and sentenced to death.


Mr. Azarang was initially charged with "espionage" and with "membership in the Tudeh Party of Iran and its Central Advisory Committee." (Interview June 17, 2019)

No charge has been publicly stated against the victims of the 1988 mass executions.  Based on the testimonies of the prisoners who were in prisons in the summer of 1988, the questions of the three-member committee from the leftist prisoners were about their beliefs and they were accused of being “anti-religion”, insisting on their beliefs and not repenting. In their letters to the Minister of Justice in 1988, and to the UN Special Rapporteur visiting Iran in February 2003, the families of the victims refer to the authorities’ accusations against the prisoners – accusations that may have led to their execution.  These accusations include being “counter-revolutionary, anti-religion, and anti-Islam,” as well as being “associated with military action or with various [opposition] groups based near the borders.”

An edict of the Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, reproduced in the memoirs of Ayatollah Montazeri, his designated successor, corroborates the reported claims regarding the charges against the executed prisoners.  In this edict, Ayatollah Khomeini refers to members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization as “hypocrites” who do not believe in Islam and “wage war against God” and decrees that prisoners who still approve of the positions taken by this organization are also “waging war against God” and should be sentenced to death.

Evidence of guilt

"Confessions of fellow members of his organization" were cited as evidence against Mr. Azarang. (Interview June 17, 2019)


Mr. Azarang was not cooperative [with authorities] in prison and continued to protest the Islamic Republic. No information is available on his defense.


Mr. Sa’id Azarang was executed during the mass killings of political prisoners on July 20th, 1988 in Evin Prison. He was killed by a firing squad alongside Kiumarz Zarshenas, a member of the Tudeh Party Central Advisory Committee, and Faramarz Sufi, an agent of the FKO majority.

One day before he was put to death, Mr. Azarang called his sister to inform her of his impending execution. He said: "I'm proud to have found the peace I am in today. Don't cry for me, and don't wear black, because I stood with my head high. Tell mom that I love her. Tell dad that I love him and that I'm proud of you all. I love you all and am happy to be able to say that I never let you down. Tell my brothers and my sisters that I love them. Keep your heads held high. Tell my dear son, that I love him and that I want him to always remain my son. Tell my wife that I love her like always and that she will be in my heart through my very last moments..."

Mr. Azarang's unmarked burial plot is in column 20, row 7 of Khavaran cemetery. Intelligence agents prohibited his memorial service, using threats to limit his family to a modest in-home ceremony and to keep them from speaking publicly about his death. Thirty years later, his family is still not allowed to formally commemorate him. 

His wife was released from prison after serving an eight-year sentence, and later passed away from cancer. Their son and the rest of his family have since been subjected to hostility [from authorities] and had academic and professional opportunities taken from them.


*The Tudeh Party of Iran was created in 1941. The Tudeh Party ideology was Marxist- Leninist and it supported policies of the former Soviet Union. The Party played a major role in Iran’s political scene until it was banned for the second time following the August 19, 1953 coup. After the 1979 Revolution, the Party declared Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic Republic regime revolutionaries and anti-imperialists and actively supported the new government. Although the Party never opposed the Islamic Republic, it became the target of government attacks in 1982 when most of the Party’s leaders and members were imprisoned.

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